A witness brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Idowu Olusegun yesterday told a Federal High Court, Lagos that he never had any dealing with the former aviation minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode.
Olusegun, who is the first prosecution witness, said this while being cross-examined by counsel to the former minister, Norrison Quakers (SAN), before Justice Mohammed Aikawa.
The witness, who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Paste Poster Company, further confirmed before the judge that he got cash payment of N6 million from the Directorate of Media and Publicity of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Campaign Organisation for printing the presidential campaign poster of former president Goodluck Jonathan through one Mr Oke.
He further insisted before the court that the balance of N24 million his company charged the Campaign Organisation for media consultancy is yet to be paid.
Olusegun noted that he could not remember the amount he collected until he was shown a copy of the receipt issued by his company by the EFCC.
Meanwhile, the judge also overruled the objection of counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, who had insisted that the extra-Judicial statement made by Olusegun before the commission couldn’t be tendered before the court.
Prior to the ruling of the court, Quakers had sought to tender the said statement in evidence because according to him, he has been able to establish that the witness made the statement and had also identified it.
But Oyedepo contended that the statement cannot be tendered since the witness had not in any manner contradicted himself.
Justice Aikawa had on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 turned down the request by Fani-Kayode to transfer his trial to Abuja division of the court.
The judge had arrived at the decision when it dismissed an application initiated by the former minister wherein he had sought that the charge against him be transferred to the Abuja division of the Federal High Court.
The trial judge declared that some of the authorities cited by lawyer to the defence were delivered before the enactment of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 which, according to Justice Aikawa, had made provision for exceptions to the issues of venue of court.
According to Justice Aikawa, “In the case before me, the prosecution avers in its counter affidavit that the sum of N30 million was paid to PW1 (Olusegun Idowu) of Paste Posters Company Ltd, who has his office in Lagos.
“This, in my view shows that all facts leading to the transaction was done in Lagos, and only evidence will prove otherwise.
“In the light of all these, it is clear that the facts and circumstances of this case falls into the exceptions of the law regarding criminal trials.
“There is no justification to warrant a transfer of this case to Abuja; the interest of justice requires that the trial of this case continues in this court.
“This application hereby fails and is accordingly dismissed.”
Aside this, Justice Aikawa in his ruling on the objection raised by defence counsel on the last adjourned date which questioned the tendering of photocopies of payment receipts by PW1 who had commenced his evidence on June 7, 2017 insisted that it was not the business of the court to concern itself with whether a document is original, so long as the document sought to be tendered, is duly certified.
Justice Aikawa therefore threw out the objections, admitted the receipts in evidence and same were designated as exhibits 3 and 3A respectively.
The judge thereafter ordered the prosecution to continue with the examination of his first witness.
While being led in evidence by Rotimi Oyedepo, counsel to the EFCC, the 1st prosecution witness, who after being asked by Oyedepo that, “you told the court that you printed some posters, now take a look at exhibit 3 and tell the court if that is the payment receipt” responded in the affirmative when he said “yes” with an addition that the amount on the receipt was N6 million, even as he explained that payment was made to him in cash, and in the name of “Directorate of Media and Publicity, PDP Campaign Organisation.”
The witness stated further that, “On that same day, the sum of N30 million was also remitted to me in cash in the name of “Directorate of Media and Publicity, PDP Campaign Organisation.”
The matter was then adjourned until Wednesday, September 27, 2017 for cross examination and continuation of trial after Quakers prayed the trial judge to consider an adjournment so as to be able to study the exhibits and prepare his cross examination.
Fani-Kayode who equally held sway as Chairman, Media and Publicity, of the 2015 PDP Campaign Organisation, was dragged before the court alongside the former Minister of State for Finance, Nenadi Usman.
Also charged with the duo on a 17 counts that touch on alleged N4.6 billion money laundering is the former National Chairman of the Association of Local Government in Nigeria (ALGON), Yusuf Danjuma, together with a company, Join Trust Dimensions Limited.
But they had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The defendants were initially docked on June 28, 2016 before Justice Muslim Hassan of same court.
But Justice Hassan excused himself from the suit on March 16, 2017 sequel to an application by Fani-Kayode suggesting the likelihood of bias.
This prompted the reassignment of the matter to Justice Aikawa and the defendants were re-arraigned on the charges.
Specifically, Fani-Kayode and others were alleged to have committed the offence between January and March 2015.
The anti-graft agency alleged that the defendants unlawfully retained over N3.8 billion which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act of stealing and corruption.
The EFCC also alleged that the defendants unlawfully used over N970 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of an unlawful act of corruption.
But counts 15 to 17 stated that Fani-Kayode and one Olubode Oke, who is said to be at large, allegedly made cash payments of about N30 million, in excess of the amount allowed by law without going through a financial institution.
The former Aviation Minister was said to have made payments to one Paste Poster Co (PPC) of No 125 Lewis St., Lagos, in excess of amounts allowed by law.
The EFCC said the offence contravened the provisions of sections 15 (3) (4), 16 (2) (b), and 16 (5) of the Money laundering (prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
The matter has been adjourned until November 20, 2017 for continuation of trial.
By Chinyere Obia